In Dispute Over SJ Territorial Rights, A’s Claim Opposition Group is ‘Astroturf’
After more than three years of study, Major League Baseball still hasn’t acted on the desire of Oakland A’s ownership to move the team south to San Jose. But while the larger issue of territorial rights is up in the air, there is a court date — September 21 to be exact — to address one small part of the dispute.
The Mercury News and the blog newballpark.org report that the city of San Jose and the A’s want a group known as “Stand for San Jose” to produce more information about their financial supporters and membership. Stand for San Jose filed a legal challenge to a proposed new ballpark near Diridon Station last year.
The question behind this legal maneuver is whether the members of Stand for San Jose have legal standing or it’s just a front for the San Francisco Giants, a relationship that would peg the group as more Astroturf than grassroots. The Giants currently hold MLB’s territorial rights to Santa Clara County, and have not shown any interest in relinquishing them to the A’s, who had actually granted them to the Giants in the 1990s.
There isn’t much dispute that Stand For San Jose is at least partly supported by the San Jose Giants, who are in turn owned by the San Francisco club. The group’s own website, in addition to including stock photography of a happy young family apparently rejoicing in their city’s lack of a major league ballpark, links to an AP story that describes the group as “concerned residents financially backed by the Giants’ Class-A San Jose club.”
Stand for San Jose shouldn’t be confused with “Better Sense San Jose,” which is a volunteer group of San Jose residents who are concerned about traffic, parking and budgetary impacts of a baseball stadium in their city. (I spoke with their leader, Marc Morris, earlier this year.)
The ownership groups of the A’s and Giants may not see eye to eye, but the teams are moving on a parallel course toward a green and/or orange October. They have nearly-identical win-loss records, and both teams are taking orders for postseason strips from their season ticket holders.
As of this morning, the wise statheads at Baseball Prospectus believe there is a 59% chance that the A’s will make it into the postseason, almost certainly via the wild card. They currently lead the American League wild card race, and are 4 games behind the Texas Rangers for the AL West title. BP gives the Giants a 94% chance of postseason play, with a 90.7% chance of winning the NL West. They are 4.5 games ahead of the Dodgers.
The last time both Bay Area baseball teams were in the postseason together was 2003, when both won their respective divisions but lost in the first round of the playoffs.